ROMAN IDENTITY: Shadow of the Legend
Once Upon a Time…
There was an enchanted island that lay hidden. There on the island lived an enchanted goddess with raven black hair and piercing blue eyes. She would lie in wait for her victims to arrive on her shores. She would keep whatever man that crossed her path prisoner and force him to hide the secrets that lie from within the island.
"What secret," Troy asked perplexed.
"I cannot tell you, it is a secret Troy."
"What is a secret mother?" The mother of the boy let out a wide grin.
"A secret is something hidden that you do not want others to know about."
"Like this," Troy said pulling out from his hand. There in the hands of the boy lies a golden locket.
"Where did you get that," his mother said surprised. His mother knew he was a clever one, but was not sure how he obtained a priceless gift from her, reminding her of the great Romans who founded the great city and who later settled the island of Aegean they lived.
"I cannot tell you it is a secret," Troy said mysteriously. It was those moments of the night before his bedtime that his mother would tell him stories in his room. Each time he would curl up with his brothers or it would be just him, who would listen to the tales. She would always save the ending for the next night. He was hoping that the last story about the boy who never woke up from the sleeping potion would have a happy ending.
"And the boy was finally able…"__There was no happy ending. His story teller was no longer there to make it all better. The story felt troubling, incomplete, and empty. It sounded all too close to his own story of his life.
Oh how I missed curling up and feeling her heartbeat, and her telling me I was loved and that I loved her. And somehow it made everything alright whenever she was around. Oh how I will miss her…
"Troy!!" shouted a voice from behind.
"What is it?" he said annoyed.
"Stop daydreaming, and move out the way so I can let this horse pass through," his brother Apollus said.
"Where are you going with the horse," Troy inquired of his older brother.
"I am going out to town to meet with company at the baths and have some fun."
"How come I did not know about this?"
"Oh I am so sorry; I thought Barbarius was going to tell you. I assume he must have forgotten already. Too bad," Apollus said sarcastically.
"Can I come?" Apollus turned back to see his friends standing off to the side with Barbarius alongside the road.
"I am sorry there is no more room for you in the chariot."
"So you replaced me with a person I do not even know well," Troy said pointing to the fellow standing alongside Barbarius."
"Are you coming or what," Titus called out.
"I must be going Troy. Maybe you can find another horse back there in the shed.
"Why am I always the one that has to be left out," Troy mumbled. Apollus walked off guiding the horse to the chariot to be mounted with the help of slaves. As Apollus and the others mounted on, Troy stared right at them.
"Go find some friends to associate with," Apollus called out as they began riding off. They laughed at him as they sped away. Troy picked up a rock from the ground and threw it at Apollus head! Troy blinked again and they were already gone. He had just daydreamed that he threw something at Apollus. Oh how he wished he could have really carried it out. Then suddenly he felt a surge of guilt for even thinking that way. As he walked back towards his "palace" he called a home he decided just this once he was going to check the shed for anymore available horses. As he stepped inside he saw one horse left. He looked around. There were no slaves to escort him around. But he was not a child anymore. He was fourteen now. He was ready to go so he quickly mounted on the horse.
"Come on boy," I need you to take me to Apathia where my brothers are. Come on I need you to move. After a couple of failed attempts he pulled the reins. Then suddenly the horse jerked and galloped wildly out the open gate.
"Slow down," Troy shouted. Just then Odydus the steward appeared out of nowhere in the path of the horse. Troy desperately tried to steer the horse away narrowly missing him.
"Halt Sagrus!" Odydus shouted. Immediately the horse came to a stop.
"What are you doing riding that horse," he asked Troy.
"Well, I wanted to ride to town but the other horses are either being groomed or are taken. And besides you do not have to worry about me, I am not a boy anymore."
"You are still a boy in my eyes. Well at least until you turn sixteen like your brother Apollus, then I can call you officially a man. But since you are the son of the King it is my duty to protect you and your brothers. Especially after you know what happened." Troy sighed.
"Come take this horse over here by the fence."
"The chariot is right here. I thought you want me to stay home."
"No you can stay home if you want, but if you want to go to town, you have to have me join the ride," he smiled. Troy beamed from head to toe. Before you knew it they were traveling down the long winding road to Apathia.
"This is the start of my story. My name is Troy Acertius; son of King Acropulus."
"We are here," called Odydus. I tried to familiarize myself with my surroundings in case it got dark by the time I left town. The street scene was busy as usual, but I remembered how different things were ten years ago when I walked these very streets.
"It is amazing how some things stay the same," I murmured softly to myself as I glanced nostalgically at the marble basilica.
"Now Troy, Alexander will be your assistant today, so just pretend he is not here as he goes about his business and carries your belongings," Odydus called from behind.
"Thanks," I muttered, as I quickly made my way to the baths. Alexander was a new slave my father bought and I was not sure if he was "house-broken" yet.
"I will meet you before sundown," Odydus called from behind. I merely nodded in agreement as I made my way to the entry. It was my first time in awhile I had made it to the public baths. It was a magnificent building with high vaulted ceilings and lively frescoes that covered the walls. The baths were one of the few places that brought men of all classes together. I glanced around the open spaces to see if I could find any familiar faces. Is that Barbarius? I slyly made my way across the other side of the cold baths as I seen a tall muscular man wrapping his towel. As I brushed through the crowd and my way to tap him on the shoulder he turned around surprised with wide eyes.
"Who are you," he muttered. I quickly walked away in embarrassment. Still in stupor over the embarrassment of my stupidity, I bumped into another half-naked man. He glanced at me with a look of disgust as I managed to weakly say, "I am sorry." All around me were some high officials I knew that worked with father and some being acquaintances of Barbarius. Some still had robes while other walked around naked nonchalantly.
"Are you going to change?" I have your oils ready." The slave softly said.
"Certainly. Maybe just a little later." I felt so out of place and uncomfortable all of a sudden, where before it never bothered me before. I leaned against the wall torn whether I had a made mistake coming here.
I finally made my way over to the cold baths. I dipped my toes to feel just how cold the water was. They really did not add any heat to this I said to myself. As I got up and walked slowly towards the edge of the pool I hesitated; thinking if I should slowly immerse myself in the baths. As I stood there looking at the clear water below someone from behind said, "GO in already!" Out of nowhere someone pushed me into the icy waters. With arms flailing, I was completely submerged in the blue. For the first few seconds I was in shock not knowing who just pushed me and how I was close to the bottom of the pool. As I slowly swam up to the surface, suddenly a sense of calm came over me as I opened my eyes to see my way around.
"Do not think, just jump," called the same voice. "It feels good does it not?" I popped my head out the water to find the voice. I looked at a crowd of boys around my age who were chuckling on the sides.
"I guess they find this funny," I muttered. I scanned their faces, but I could not pick who it was. After I swam around and waded in the pool I got up with my slave with my towel ready in his hand. One of the fellows in the group of boys suddenly looked back at me and walked quickly away. As I made my way to the warm baths to warm up, I bumped into someone again.
"I am so sorry. I have been doing that to not just you."
"Apology accepted," said the young fellow who was about my age. As he turned around, I grabbed him by the shoulder. Suddenly there was a face behind the voice.
"You are that one who pushed me into the pool; are you not?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I recognize the voice, and you are the same person that stared at me as I was getting out."
"And. Anyone could have stared at you. There are hundreds if not thousands of people in here."
"Then why did you leave that group of boys that were laughing by the cold baths."
"I was not even there!"
"Why are you lying, I seen you."
"I think you are confused," he said vexed.
"I am not mad that you pushed me, but I do not appreciate you trying to deny it now in my face."
"Just leave me alone, you are delusional." He said.
"Why did you do it," I said as he walked away.
"I do not know what you were talking about. Maybe you have me mixed up with my twin brother."
"Your twin," I said surprised.
"Yes, I have a twin," he said with a smirk.
"Yes I believe you," I said sarcastically.
"It looks like someone came here to start trouble, because you found it. And about the apology, I did not mean it!" he snapped. Then a tall muscular man came to his side.
"Is anything wrong here?"
"Not yet, he is not worth my trouble. I just need you to take my articles of clothing to the steam room." I walked off stunned not knowing what to think. As I soaked in the hot baths, I thought of how foolish I felt making a big issue of something that now seemed so petty. As I soaked with my thoughts, I saw Apollus and his friends walking past.
"Troy? What brings you here, or should I say who brought you here?"
"Odydus has brought me to the baths. And I belong here just as much as you do."
"That is well with me just be home before dark, it gets scary in these parts of town." He walked off laughing with his friends with the finest robe.
"We should explore the town before it gets too late," Apollus told one of the fellows next to him. And maybe we might be fortunate and see a lovely lady." As my slave stood standing on the side I told him I would not keep him waiting any longer. After my massage where he would scrape my back with a strigil I was heading home. After having the oils rubbed onto my body I would have pleasure of having all the dirt of my body scraped off. After having this procedure done several times, the discomfort became just another routine in life. Day after day. It was routines similar to this that were a part of my lavish life that kept things… predictable.
As I was leaving, I stared face to face with who seemed to be the same fellow that I had a disagreement with.
"I seen you before have I not?" he asked. I ignored him and kept on walking.
"I can understand if you are upset," I apologize for pushing you earlier."
"So now you admit your error?" I said softly.
"Well yes…I have not seen you since I pushed you into the cold baths. You should have seen your expression." He joked.
"That was funny," I said sarcastically. "But really who are you?"
"Sorry I apologize. Let me introduce myself; I am Romeos and you are…"
"Troy," I said reluctantly. "So who was I speaking to before, I thought that you were…"
"A twin? You must have met my brother Julius."
"He did not seem to be as light-hearted as you as in playing practical jokes," I said sourly.
"Why do you say it as such? I did you a favor." I looked at him bewildered.
"I did not need help going to the pool if that was your reason."
"I did it because you just stood there, so close but yet afraid. Sometimes you do not have to always think about everything and just do it. Did you enjoy the cold water Troy and be honest."
"It was a shock, but yet exhilarating. Thanks. So, do you really have a twin?"
"Certainly. Julius over here," he called as he walked towards him. As I tried to follow him I got cut off by the crowd. Then someone tapped me on the shoulder.
"Troy," a voice whispered. I turned around and only seen one.
"Romeos, is that you?"
"No I am Julius." I turned around to find the other one.
"But I am Romeos," said the voice from behind. I took a step back to look at both twins suddenly on each of my side.
"That was good joke," Julius told Romeos.
"Yes you caught me there." I agreed with a smile.
"I am sorry Troy, for what happened earlier," Julius said.
"No I apologize. I did not really believe you were a twin. I have never seen both of you at the same time before, but now I am convinced."
"Well now that we are all acquainted, why not come with us to our home to see how our residence? I know it cannot compare to your residence, but our parents do want to see your face again." I thought about Odydus. What we would he think if I went off into the company with someone else? Just then Barbarius approached me.
"I believe Odydus is waiting for you. It is best not to keep him waiting."
"Tell him that there has been a change of plans and I am going with Romeos and Julius for dinner."
"Father is not going to be happy with that. You know he has special guests being hosted tonight."
"It is the same officials that meet at the forum meetings at the basilica."
"There is a new ambassador though." Then not surprisingly Apollus strolled by.
"So what should I tell Odydus?" Barbarius asked.
"Well, if it to be this special I suppose we can come along later." Romeos suggested. Romeos looked at me to see what my next move was.
"Tell father I am coming a little later," I blurted. Romeos smiled. It was my first time out in a long time with real friends my age.
"What did you say," Apollus said.
"Tell him I am coming later." I walked off leaving them dumbfounded as I walked off with my new friends and a new attitude.
I went home with them to see their lovely home in the city. I was introduced to their parents who were actually acquaintances with my father. When their slave showed me to the atrium, I heard their father say in the background, "Who is this boy you speak of?" I gulped thinking that the father already did not like me after how I treated his sons. But once he took a close look as he got closer, he immediately warmed up.
"Why it is only Troy is it not? We know your family very well," their father Diodecius exclaimed.
"Yes, my have you gotten taller since I last seen you," their mother said coming from behind.
"Yes, I know it has been awhile, I almost did not recognize your sons for a moment," I said bashfully.
"I have heard good things from you. Your father speaks well of you boys and hopes you can follow in his footsteps. You must be very proud to have a father of such noble character."
"What a wonderful ruler he is," his mother said grinning.
"Oh…thanks it means a lot," I said trying to avoid looking at them.
"Oh is it not the dinner for the diplomats this evening," his mother said. Romeos let out a smirk.
"We forgot it was today," their father said apologetically. "We were ready to depart tomorrow for our business venture. I wish I could make it but I must be getting ready for the journey. If only I could send him a notice, explaining my leave of absence sooner.
"Perhaps we could offer him a letter," Julius suggested. I was not thrilled to hear that we were now messengers.
"I believe that would work out." His mother nodded.
"I did want to see the diplomats," his mother said wishfully.
"We can go with the boys, and just stay briefly, but I cannot stay too long." With that the family was off on their way with me along.